NEClimbs - information for New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont rock and ice climbers
Current conditions in North Conway, NH at 6:00a on 07/01/22 - Temperature: 55.7 °F - Wind speed: 0.0 mph - Wind chill: 55.7 °F - Barometric pressure: 29.918 in - 3 Hour Barometer Trend: Falling Slowly - Humidity: 74 %
BugCON 4: almost too intense for climbing, DEET required
4 out of a possible 5
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July 13, 2017

Hi Folks,

I've been climbing more over the past couple of weeks, and always it makes me think about stuff. And that's especially the case when I'm climbing what is for me harder stuff. I'm long past the days of sticking my neck way out. But that said, I on occasion I do like to take the occasional risk. And in point of fact, isn't that a big part of what climbing is all about? Even on the easier climbs there is always the element of risk that pokes its nose into the equation.

Of course even tho I thrive a bit on the risk, I like to mitigate that risk wherever I can. I was talking to Brad about this the other day while we were up climbing at Mt Forist in Berlin. The conversation started while I was leading my 5.9, Birthday Boy, down on the far right side. The rock was humid from some sprinkles the night before and I slung the sapling just to the right of the start, just so I wouldn't slip down the slope if I came off before the first bolt. If you've done the climb you know that the crux is getting past the first 2 bolts. It's, dare I say, thin... I slung the tree just because I didn't want a problem at that time. I hadn't done it the other times I've climbed the route, but it seemed prudent at the time.

I carry all my slings setup as alpine draws and a couple of them have small locking carabiners on them. I use them when I'm not sure which direction I'm going or I just want that little bit of extra confidence, and this time I used one on the second bolt. The rest of the climb is mostly around 5.7 and a mix of gear and bolts and is pretty much a walk up for me considering how many times I've done it. He lowered me and climbed it on TR and as always his footwork was great. As I lowered him we chatted about how both of us try to do the little things that keep us safe, even tho by definition we're doing a risky endeavor. Brad brought up the idea that when accidents happen they are often not due to a single cause, but are often a series of small things that make for a big problem when the unexpected takes place.

We walked back up the hill to a climb called Hostile territory. I'd led the first pitch, but not the second and he wanted to lead the first. When I'd done P1 before I'd thought it was a clip and not taken the rack. It was a bit of a shock when I got to the blueberry ledge and realized that I'd need some gear to protect the move to the next bolt about 15' up. Without the gear, a fall would be 305 or so feet, and bring me pretty close to the ground. So I sat on the ledge, lowered a bit of rope, got the rack and finished the pitch. The climbing to the bolt wasn't all that hard, but the risk didn't make any sense to me.

When Brad led it he actually put in 2 pieces to protect that move. Not because either was a bad placement, but because they were at an angle that might cause a problem if he fell. As I followed I noticed that here & there he had flipped the rope carabiner. I do that at times as well, especially when I'm moving back & forth following the line. It's just another little thing to stack the odds in my favor. On the second pitch you can go left at 5.9 or right at 5.7. I did the left variation. If you get the opportunity to do it, it's fun and hard. The slab before the overlap is delicate and getting over the overlap is a trip.

I'm not a person who is into going out to fall off climbs. My goal is always NOT to fall. If that leaves me climbing at the grade I'm climbing right now, up to moderate 5.10b and WI 5, that's OK. I use all the little tricks and stuff that I can to make climbing safe for me. Most of my friends are of that age that they agree with me. Of course if I were climbing overhanging sport routes all the time, I'd certainly have a different attitude. But on trad and ice I figure this attitude will do me well.

Sorry, no pix today. Maybe next time...
1) Unfortunately there were 2 accidents today. One took place several pitches up on Tumble Down Dick in Peru, Maine. A leader fall resulted in multiple facial fractures including lower jaw, cheek bones, nose and skull plus he broke his first and second ribs on his right side. Fortunately they were able to self-rescue and it seems that after some surgery the leader will be OK.

2) It seems that every year there is an accident on the Barber Wall and this year is no exception. This time it was on Nutcracker. Nutcracker is an old school 5.9+, which definitely is a sandbag. In this case the leader fell above the little overlap crux and 2 pieces pulled, depositing him on the ground. In this case he suffered multiple transverse fractures t9 to l5, lung contusion, fractured hip and at least one broken rib. The local MRS and Fire Department got on the scene quickly and with a crew of 20+ people he was moved up to the waiting ambulance and on to Memorial Hospital. Again it appears that he had no neurological damage and will recover.

It's hard to say anything about these incidents. Well maybe one thing...if either had not been wearing a helmet the outcomes would have definitely been very different!!! Shit happens, and it's a good thing that both of the injured parties should fully recover.

I've ridden several times this week, but the most fun I had was an adventure ride in Bartlett. We started by the church on the corner with the flashing light. We explored a lot of ski trails on the left side of Bear Notch Road and then rode a bunch of roads and trails in the Experimental Forest. It was an 8.9 mile gas! Coming down one ski trail I smelled bug spray and then right in front of us were two young researchers doing field work on ferns. It was pretty cool. If you're interested in what they're doing, here's a link:

Getting better, but it still depends on the location. Mosquitoes pretty bad, bring DEET no matter what!

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Have fun and climb safe,

Al Hospers
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire

There are two kinds of people who climb mountains. Those whose hearts sing when they are in the mountains and all the rest.
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